There are times when you can only expect plaudits and ears to come chasing an encounter and one such moment is surely to surround the release of the debut album from British singer songwriter Lara Smiles. A truly magnetic festival of resourceful sounds and lively imagination, All For You is as rich in its variety and enterprise as it is determined in its aim to get the body bouncing and involved in inhibition losing fun. It is a treat of an introduction which just seems to get more impressive and manipulative by the listen.
With music never far from her ears and passion since a young child, seeds laid by the sounds her parents were playing, Lara has grown to embrace a host of styles and flavours which has nurtured the variety and diversity in her own writing and music. Among a host of major inspirations, the likes of Tina Turner, The Beatles, Paul Simon, Queen, Prodigy, The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Muse, Beth Ditto, Green Day and Middle Eastern music heavily feature yet as her first full-length reveals, they have only gone to spark her own musical individuality. Since emerging she has also become a praise drawing presence on the UK live scene supporting the likes of Pete Doherty and playing some of the biggest festivals, including Glastonbury four times, the Isle of Wight Festival, and The Great Escape as well as also finding herself collaborating with The Orb, guesting on the new Shed Seven album, Instant Pleasures, and singing with The Australian Pink Floyd Show for the past eight years.
Mixed by Jamie Grashion and legendary producers Michael Rendall and Martin Glover aka Youth (Primal Scream, The Orb, Pink Floyd), her self-produced debut album is poised to thrust Lara into the limelight in her own rights. That is our expectations here and every venture through All For You only cements our thoughts.
© Hannah Smiles
Breeding a boisterous and tenacious, often ferocious blend of alternative rock and contagion loaded pop with a just as eager appetite for punk, electro and industrial rock with plenty more besides, the album opens up with the swiftly and increasingly magnetic Coincidence. A spiral of electronic enticement entangles ears first as crisp beats pounce, their combined lure soon reinforced by the hungry riffs of Lara’s guitar. Instantly intrigue and drama lines every emerging tendril turning, it evolving crystalline glamour and beauty as the song breaks into a melodic stroll alongside the seductive tones of Lara. The mercurial edge to the track though continues as its writhes around like a creative dervish, tantalising and fascinating at every turn whilst getting the release off to a tremendous start.
It is an overall inescapable enticement which continues through the following Save Yourself. Bubbling electronics and boisterous guitar align to the darker stroll of Joe Singfield’s bass as the rustle of Sara Leigh’s beats tease before leading the song in its own individual canter. In turn there is a devious urgency and aggressiveness which breaks out as the chorus escapes a calmer build up though that too has a dramatic edge which just sparks the imagination as potently as ears. Lara’s vocals have rich variety which relish her imagination and the equally diverse tapestry of sounds she ventures forth across this track alone it emerging as a compelling slice of punk lined pop ‘n’ roll.
The album’s title track comes next, bounding in on an irresistible incitement of a bassline which continues to manipulate as vocals and melodies dance. Ridiculously infectious and persuasive to hips and vocal chords, the track simply seduced compliance and participation whilst igniting an already firmly placed appetite for the release before Dictate Peace explores a whole new landscape of Eastern spiced teasing and imagination. Its summery stroll and breeze radiates captivation but also the darker shadows and strains of drama which impose their intrigue throughout; it all adding to a riveting invention which sees the listener taken through a web of creative espionage.
And It Hurts follows with its initial gentle elegant charms to the fore. They continue to entice as the fire in the heart and belly of the song smoulders and ignites note by note. With its blaze increased, energy erupts but so too another striking collusion of textures and flavours with the track continuing the great unpredictability of its predecessors and their instinctive contagion.
The folkish grace and melodic beauty of Oh How is pretty much aural intoxication straight after, Lara’s voice intimation carrying seduction and radiance while Disconnected provides a controlled but virulent contagion of pop rock with a compelling blend of spikiness and winning grins to its stomp. In turn, Zombie preys on the senses and body with its emotive irritability and electro funk catchiness. Like all tracks, it soon reveals its individually inventive escapade of unexpected twists which only accelerate its slavery of ears and involvement.
Penultimate song, The Fightings Over, needs mere seconds to have everything robustly involved in its punk ‘n’ rock bred bounce as thoughts align to its lyrical exploration, a tempestuousness in its air and attitude only adding to the incendiary theatre perfectly setting up the contrasting mellow and glowing yet melancholic repose of final track, Turn It Around. The individuality of this pair alone songs epitomises the variety thick All For You as a whole and of Lara’s songwriting which seems so effortlessly to cast real diversity and adventure.
There have been a few releases which have truly inspired and aroused us here this year, a couple this month alone and All For You sits boldly alongside giving real undiluted pleasure. Whether it sees Lara Smiles a household name we will see but it will surely establish her as one of our most exciting and unique talents.
All For You is released September 7th via iTunes and other stores with its album launch show @ the Sebright Arms, London August 30th.
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